If you’re looking for the best shoulder holster for your carry gun, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed by the number of options out there.
Shoulder holsters are so popular because they offer a fairly deep concealment option (provided you have a jacket or overshirt to wear) and they’re one of the most comfortable carry options around to boot.
These are especially useful if you’re carrying a longer gun like a revolver or full-size 1911, but they’re also great for smaller guns too. They’re also excellent options for anyone who wants to be able to draw smoothly while seated, such as while in a car or sitting in a restaurant.
So let’s take a look at the best shoulder holsters on the market so that you can find the perfect one to meet your needs, whatever gun you’re carrying.
(TOP 6) Best shoulder holster
Review And Guides 2021
1. Aker Leather 101 Comfort-Flex Shoulder Holster
First up, we have the Aker Leather 101 Comfort-Flex. This is a very comfortable holster with a harness that you have to feel to believe. This holster disappears well under a jacket or overshirt, and the upward angle of the holster helps to keep the gun from printing.
This upswept angle also helps to improve comfort if you’re a bit broader around the chest, as the gun will hug your side a bit better than some other holster options and is less likely to poke into your ribs. It’s also good if, like me, you’re a bit on the smaller side, as it helps to avoid printing if you’re carrying a full-size or compact handgun.
The entire holster is made of contoured, full-grain leather that is very high quality, and you have options for black or a more natural tan color depending on your preference. You also get two very adjustable magazine pouches on the opposite side.
This balances the holster well so it doesn’t pull or slide around even if you’re running, and the mag pouches have adjustable tension screws so you can dial in their positioning to get things situated just right. You’ll appreciate this if you’re carrying a heavier handgun for sure, but it’s also nice knowing that your gun will always be in the same place for a consistent draw.
After all, it’s hard to practice a speedy draw if you’re reaching to a slightly different spot every time.
The only real issue with this holster is that the leather is a little bit on the thicker side, which is actually great for durability, but it does increase the width of the holstered gun and magazines under your arms.
You probably won’t notice the difference unless you’re used to a thinner holster, but this is something to keep in mind if you’re used to something like nylon or Kydex.
2. Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster
The Alien Gear ShapeShift is an extremely versatile option that is one of the most comfortable shoulder holsters around.
It’s available in black or brown much like the Aker 101 above, and also like the Aker it has two mag slots on the opposite side to give you plenty of extra ammo if you need it.
As you might expect from something called “ShapeShift”, this is an incredibly adjustable option, which makes it a great option if you’re concerned about comfort. You have two adjustable straps to help you get the harness tailored to your body, and you can alter the retention and cant of the holster as well.
The harness straps are padded with neoprene to keep them comfortable and breathable, which is a blessing if you’re carrying in warm climates as leather can sometimes cause sweating and chafing. This makes this a great option if you live in more Southern locales, or tend to be outside a lot.
The straps are also very thin, which also helps with comfort and concealability. This one fits very nicely under a lightweight overshirt, which means you can live out your Magnum PI/Miami Vice dreams by rocking a nice Hawaiian shirt, or something similarly light, over the shoulder instead of a jacket or coat.
You can also use or lose the thumb release depending on your preferences or duty requirements, and the mag pouches have adjustable retention there as well. Alien Gear also sells ShapeShift Expansion Packs that allow you to use the ShapeShift as an ankle, inside-the-waistband, or outside-the-waistband holster as well, depending on your needs.
Overall, this is the best option on this list if you’re looking for more of a holster system, instead of just a one-off holster.
This is definitely the way to go if you will be carrying in a shoulder rig on some occasions and in a more concealed IWB or ankle holster at other times. It saves money, reduces the number of holsters you need to have on hand, and keeps your draw more consistent.
Finally, the holster is made in the US and is made of primarily US-sourced materials, including the leather.
3. Galco Miami Classic II
Next up, we have a classic. Literally.
The Galco Miami Classic is one of the more iconic and well-known shoulder holsters on the market, and it’s earned every bit of its reputation as a solid and dependable carry option.
It is a little bit on the expensive side, so I definitely recommend trying one in a store, or buying from somewhere with an easy return policy like Amazon so you can send it back if it doesn’t fit or you just find it’s not for you.
The leather here is high-quality, and nicely contoured so it shouldn’t rub or chafe, even if you find yourself moving around a lot. It features a fairly horizontal carry position for a quick, smooth draw that will feel familiar to anyone that’s used an older shoulder holster in the past.
This is truly a throwback to the holsters of the ’80s that were so popular with detectives on the silver screen and in real life, but you can get an even more authentically old-school option with the standard Classic, which has the magazine pouches in a traditional vertical position, as opposed to the more convenient horizontal position here.
The harness is adjustable, but the retention is not, so you’ll be relying on Galco’s molding process to get that right. Fortunately, their quality control is excellent so you shouldn’t see any issues there.
You also get some tie-downs that can be used to really dial in the way the straps lay across your shoulders to make sure everything fits very comfortably and conceals well.
Finally, the swivel system built into the harness allows you to move very freely and easily while wearing this shoulder rig, which is great if you plan to be fairly active while wearing it. Overall, if you like an old-school shoulder holster with a horizontal draw and high-quality leather, this is a great option for you.
4. Galco Classic Lite 2.0
If you like the Classic but want something a little bit more comfortable, and a little easier on the wallet, then the Classic Lite 2.0 is the way to go.
This is basically just the exact same holster, but in a slightly more horizontal carry configuration, and in a slightly thinner leather. This means its maybe a little less durable (not that you’re likely to ever notice) but it’s also lighter, more comfortable, easier to conceal, and of course cheaper to boot.
This is a great one if you like the idea of the Classic, but balked a little bit at the price or you just want to start with a slightly more affordable shoulder holster to see if you like it.
It’s also a really great option if you want a thinner harness that’s less likely to rub and chafe, or cause you to sweat underneath the straps.
5. Galco VHS 4.0
If you like the idea of the classic, but you’re looking for a vertical orientation for the holster. You get the same excellent leather and construction of the Classic II above, but with a slightly more modern vertical hang that’s a little more concealable if you’re carrying a longer gun, or are a little on the thin side as well.
If you have a smaller frame, this may definitely be the better option for you in terms of concealment, especially if you’ll be wearing a thinner garment over top of the holster.
The vertical orientation is great for longer guns like revolvers with a 6” barrel, making this a good choice for carrying a revolver for hunting or for protection in bear country. We really like this one if you’re going to be carrying a non-scoped revolver for any reason, honestly.
This is one of the relatively few options that have speed loader pouches as an option. Galco also offers a number of accessory options for these holsters, including a knife holster that is perfect for a skinning knife for those backcountry hunts with your revolver.
That’s not to say it’s not a great option for semi-auto pistols though. This is a great one for full-size pistols like a Glock 34, Glock 17, or any 1911. It’s very comfortable and well-sized, and the retention strap is easy to disengage on the draw no matter which configuration you’ve chosen.
It also has one of our favorite features, a belt tie-down loop to help keep everything stable and in the same position. This is especially important if you’re going to be carrying a large revolver because something like a 6” revolver is going to weigh a lot more than two speedloaders and the balance would be terrible without that tie down.
6. Galco Parabellum Hybrid
I’m going to be completely honest, this is my personal favorite on this list.
The hybrid, as you might have guessed from the name, is a mix of leather and Kydex for a modern fit and retention system, but with the classic look and feel of a comfortable leather harness.
This dual-material approach gives you the best of both worlds in a lot of ways, and is a truly modern take on the classic shoulder holster.
You still get two mag pouches on the opposite side, and you can get the Parabellum in a left or right-hand configuration. Both the holster and the mag pouches are oriented horizontally.
The real bonus here though, is the fact that you can use a pistol with a red dot.
Micro red dots are becoming increasingly popular on carry guns, and the Parbellum makes a strong case for carrying your red-dot-topped pistol in a shoulder holster. These red dots are extremely durable (more so than many factory “iron” sights in fact), and battery life is measured in the tens of thousands of hours, but they do add some bulk to the gun.
For a lot of folks, that little bit of extra height at the rear of the slide isn’t a big deal, but for some body types it can be a bit of an inconvenience, whether through printing or poking. With a shoulder holster, all those issues go away.
What you’re left with is a sight that’s easier and faster to use, and just as concealable as your factory sights. What’s not to love about that?
7. Bianchi X15
Lastly, we have another vertical carry option, this time in a fairly inexpensive package. This is a fairly old-school option that is designed for a variety of large-frame revolvers. This is an especially great option if you’re on a budget and looking for something that will work with multiple firearms.
The fit is very comfortable, but the full-grain leather requires a little more break-in than most, and the harness is a bit different from the other options on our list, but it’s still a very solid option, especially for the price.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the retention is not super duper snug because it’s a universal-style holster, but if you’re not going to be running and climbing, you shouldn’t really have anything to worry about.
For carrying a revolver through the woods, this is probably the best option out there because you won’t have to worry about it getting scratched up, and drawing even a long-barreled revolver is relatively smooth and easy.
Carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) efficiently keep away it from the curious views and hold the handgun in a secure and comfortable position, ready to draw when needed.
Using a shoulder holster to carry a firearm under one arm is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable methods suitable for many occasions and activities.
Since these types of holsters may be exceedingly expensive, carefully consider how you will be using your shoulder holster and maybe firstly opt for a ring made of synthetic materials before you go shopping and decide on a budget.
Megan Kriss is an avid recreational shooter by day, and writer/editor by night. She has an extensive linguistics and writing background, and has written for everyone from Allstate to celebrity plastic surgeons. She also has experience in international affairs and political policy analysis.